With over 60 years combined work experience, Dr Mike Nunn and Dr Nime Kapo continue to contribute to the growth of veterinary services in Papua New Guinea and the Asia Pacific region.
Dr Nunn’s connection to Papua New Guinea started in the years shortly after PNG gained its Independence, when the then 22-year-old lad from Victoria came to work in the country.
The 13-odd-years spent in PNG saw Dr Nunn working in the field, laboratory and then on to administration as the Director for Animal and Plant Health with the Department of Agriculture and Livestock.
Dr Nime Kapo, from Daulo in Eastern Highlands, is one of the very few Papua New Guineans who have qualified in veterinary science, a long and demanding course that has to be undertaken overseas.
Dr Nunn met a young Dr Kapo, who was then a fresh graduate joining the National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA) in 1999 as a veterinary officer.
In addition to making a significant contribution to PNG’s veterinary services and animal production sector, Dr Nunn also mentored Dr Kapo, who rose to become PNG’s Chief Veterinary Officer in 2008. Dr Kapo is now a key member of Australia’s PHAMA Plus Program providing technical advice on the country’s fight against African Swine Fever.
“It was a pleasure to watch Nime grow in confidence and in his ability to stand up in forums and speak and to give across his opinions, and over time to have very strong opinions based on his own experience and to convey those experiences,” said Dr Nunn.
Despite Dr Nunn returning to Australian Government service, the pair still maintain a strong professional and personal relationship.
“Mike, having that personal connection to PNG as well - being married here and having worked here, makes it easy for us to communicate, and he relates to us well and that is a good personal touch to our professional relationship,” said Dr Kapo.
In describing their relationship as being very open and warm, Dr Nunn highlighted how such friendships across countries can build much bigger bridges at higher levels.
“A friendship between two people can lead to departments talking to each other, governments talking to each other and a whole range of other things because you have those personal connections,” said Dr Nunn.